Fun things to do in Oregon City

  • Remnants of West's first hydroelectric plant
    Remnants of West's first hydroelectric...
    by mtncorg
  • Industry still lines and puffs on West Linn side
    Industry still lines and puffs on West...
    by mtncorg
  • Walking out to propsed viewpoint
    Walking out to propsed viewpoint
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Oregon City

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    END OF THE TRAIL MUSEUM

    by mtncorg Written May 12, 2015

    Oregon City is considered the end of the pioneer Oregon Trail. It was from here that families fanned out over the Willamette Valley to recreate their idea of Eden in the Pacific Northwest - an ongoing process for many today. The museum has lots of exhibits - some hands-on for the kids - showing how life was on the trail. There is a book store and gift shop as well as lots of local information on travel spots in the region. Cost to see the museum housed in the huge replicas of Conestoga wagons is $9 - $5 for those under 17.

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    • Historical Travel
    • National/State Park

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    MCLOUGHLIN HOUSE

    by mtncorg Written May 12, 2015

    John McLoughlin is known as the 'Father of Oregon'. He grew up in Quebec in the last part of the 18th century gaining a medical license at the tender age of 19 - his mother's brother was Dr Simon Fraser - in 1803. He signed on with the North West Company the same year as a physician and apprentice clerk. The next few years, he spent working at different posts in what is today Ontario - much of his time at Fort William - Thunder Bay. Hudson Bay Company and the North West Company came together in 1821 and McLoughlin went further west to serve as chief factor at the Rainy Lake trading post until he was sent as far west as he could be to take over at Ft George/Astoria in late 1824.

    The Pacific Northwest was jointly occupied at the time by both Britain and the United States. HBC had decided the Columbia River was probably the furthest southern border that the American government would accede to in future settlements. They developed another main trading post/fort some 100 miles upriver along the north side of the Columbia River which became Fort Vancouver. McLoughlin was named superintendent for HBC operations in the Northwest, a position he held for the next twenty years.

    Under McLoughlin, Fort Vancouver became self-sufficient of imported foodstuffs, creating farms, a flour and saw mill plus salting away salmon which were in abundance. He reorganized trapping expeditions, set up new trading posts and most importantly to HBC, turned a profit.

    As time went on, American interest in the region grew. McLoughlin was usually cooperative with American entrepreneurs, hopeful that they would fail - which many did. He became convinced, however, the region would fall to the United States and the appearance of Methodist missionaries in the mid 1830's began that process in earnest.

    Agreement between HBC and the Russian American Corporation early in 1839 began to close HBC trading posts along the West Coast and with increased American emigration to the Willamette Valley in the early 1840's, led the HBC chief, George Simpson, to order McLoughlin to transfer HBC operations to Fort Victoria on the south end of Vancouver Island in 1843. This and a quarrel between Simpson and McLoughlin over the death of McLoughlin's son at Fort Stikine in 1842 led to McLoughlin's removal in 1844.

    McLoughlin moved to Oregon City in 1846 and HBC gave him a decent retirement. McLoughlin had noted the importance of Willamette Falls since 1828 and had purchased properties at the falls, laying out the town of Oregon City in 1842. As the British moved north to the 49th parallel after the border was established in 1846, McLoughlin's land claims were held up by would-be American claimants. It was not until 1862 that the bulk of his properties were given to his family, by which time McLoughlin was already dead.

    He spent the rest of his life in Oregon City working in the lumber trade and as a mill owner. He died in 1857 while his wife Marguerite died in 1860.

    The house used to be in the area near the falls that was swallowed up in the late 19th century industrialization. To make room, the house was moved up here to the upper terrace of Oregon City in 1909. The house is now administered by the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. Check closely for tour times as they tend to be limited to Fridays and Saturdays 10 am to 4 pm. Torus start next door from the old home of Dr. Forbes Barclay who had served as a physician/clerk for HBC, as well. He moved to Oregon City after retirement in 1850, living here until his death in 1873 - serving as mayor, school superintendent and coroner before. His home was moved up from the lower city in the 1930's.

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    • National/State Park
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    • Museum Visits

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    Museum of the Oregon Territory

    by glabah Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    There are two significant historical museums in Oregon City. These are the End of the Oregon Trail museum near Interstate 205 and Washington Street, and the other is the much lesser known Museum of the Oregon Territory. The unfortunate problem is that the Museum of the Oregon Territory is actually the better of the two museums, as far as I am concerned.

    This museum covers everything from the early settlers and early documents that started the state all the way up to modern events, such as pioneering efforts to harness electricity from Willamette Falls.

    The book store has a number of items relating to early Oregon including post cards. It isn't as good as the store operated by Oregon Historical Society in Portland, but this museum only has a small fraction of the OHS memership!

    The third floor of the museum sometimes hosts events. For example, in the photo you will notice an advertisement for an artists event. The third floor has one of the best views of Willamette Falls from either side of the river.

    If you are a little adventurous, cross highway 99E and take a look at Willamette Falls, or cross the street going north and take a look at the prominade across the top of the bluff.

    Museum of the Oregon Territory: best museum spot
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    McLoughlin Promenade

    by glabah Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    This paved sidewalk and park wanders along the top of Oregon City's infamous cliff. From it, it is possible to see much of downtown Oregon City, as well as across the river to West Linn and north as far as the clouds will allow you do see.

    There are a number of benches.

    A drinking fountain is located inside the Oregon City elevator building, but can only be accessed when the elevator is operating.

    The pathway leads from the McLoughlin House (which can be accessed by a pedestrian tunnel under the road) south all the way to Tumwater. A pedestrian bridge allows an additional walk along highway 99E to the observation point above Willamette Falls.

    The park is a good location mostly free of normal traffic noise, but the noise and smells of the paper mill is quite strong on the southern end of the prominade.

    View of Downtown Oregon City from the Prominade Park-like setting is good place to enjoy nice day Willamette Falls and paper mill from prominade Prominade is not a place for fear of high places
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    • Hiking and Walking

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    Arts Festival at Oregon City

    by glabah Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Some years back, the lawn in front of the old Oregon City Senior Center (now called "community center") hosted an art fair. The artists were *very* local (Oregon City and West Linn for the most part) and the operation was quite informal: at least one artist, having heard of the event, simply showed up halfway through the first day.

    Eventually, happened a second time, and eventually it moved to the old Oregon City library grounds.

    Today, the event is a far more organized event involving live music, child face painting, and a wide variety of booths including books from the Oregon City library and of course a wide variety of artist works.

    Today, the event takes place on the grounds of the End of the Oregon Trail Center near I-205 in Oregon City. It has also developed the name "First City Art Faire" due to the reputation Oregon City has of being one of the oldest cities in the western USA.

    The number of visitors has also increased vastly over the original informal event: it may be difficult to find a parking place on Saturday morning.

    First City Arts Faire: more sophisticated now Artists with booths at the covered wagon structure People enjoy live music and food by locals at Fair Children enjoy events at three children's booths
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    First Friday Arts Show in Downtown Oregon City

    by glabah Written May 7, 2010

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    The Three Rivers Artist Guild used to be one of the main features of the old Carnegie Arts Center, but then that facility closed.

    The Three Rivers Artist Guild used to be the primary attraction in the store in the End of the Oregon Trail Center, but then that museum ran short of money, and it temporarily closed.

    Therefore, it should not be surprising that the idea of having a monthly arts show thoughout downtown Oregon City would be put forth. After all, that gets the whole community together to create an attraction for all businesses, not just the artists and not just to one particular facility.

    You will find indoor and outdoor artists. Many of the artists will be working on an artwork of some sort or another while they are doing their part of the show. Stores that are open and showing art inside will also have a bit of food or wine available.

    Various musical groups will also perform on selected wide spots on the sidewalk.

    As the name implies, this show is only the first Friday of the month in May, June, July, August and September.

    people browse artworks through Oregon City weaver (behind works), sculptor working, showing band with instruments, one homemade, on street metal sculpture, paintings outside restaurant woodworker, painter showing works on street
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    Walk through City, Look at Old Houses

    by glabah Updated Sep 7, 2009

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    Quite a large number of houses in the Portland area were built in an era when it was popular to copy styles from the mid to late 1800s. While virtually all of the original houses and other buildings from that era in Portland have been lost, that is not the case in Oregon City.

    Instead, here in Oregon City many of the houses carry historic signs. Thankfully, many of Oregon City's early houses were preserved. Mostly, this was by accident: Oregon City remained a bit of a backwater for many years after the newer city of Portland was created. The new, big city attracted much of the new development, until much of Oregon City remained much as it always had been.

    Unfortunately, since the 1980s, some of this has been lost. The very old mill buildings that were on the property of the paper mill disappeared during rebuilding of the mill complex. Several buildings in downtown Oregon City were demolished to make way for newer structures. Some have burned.

    Yet, in the area surrounding the McLoughlin House, there are still quite a number of survivors noted with historic plaques above or beside their front doors. Many of these plaques not only tell the date (or in cases where the date is not documented, at least the approximate date) and the style of the house. Queen Anne is one of the most popular styles, but some later houses are "vernacular" style.

    Plaques above or beside front door shows history Early Oregon City House: inspired Portland's 1920s Yet another survivor near McLoughlin House some old Oregon City houses commercial conversions more plain historic OC house, plaque on wall
    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel

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Oregon City Hotels

  • Rivershore Hotel

    I have never stayed in this hotel, but I lived in Oregon City for approximately 15 years and it is...

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  • Clackamas River House

    17850 S. Clackamas River Drive, Oregon City, Oregon, 97045, United States

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Couples

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